Real Life Seeps into #Fiction

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

I’m often asked if real life seeps into my novels. As we head into the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, I’ve thought about how much of my life seeped into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

During April 2010, two significant manmade disasters occurred in the United States. Both of the tragedies became a part of my life for the remainder of the year and led me to question how we live our lives. It took me some months to make the connection between the two events, but when I did, they both found a home in Trails in the Sand, the novel I began writing in late 2010.

The first tragedy occurred on April 5, when a coal mine exploded in West Virginia, several hours away from my new home in western Pennsylvania. Twenty-nine miners, trapped inside the mine, died that day. The local Pittsburgh news carried very little else as hope ebbed and flowed on the first days after the explosion. But finally, on April 9, the governor of West Virginia made a tragic announcement. All twenty-nine miners were dead and had not made it to the safety room as hoped. My husband works with the mining industry in his job as an engineer with a water solutions company. He knows the coal mining industry very well so we kept our eyes and ears tuned to the news, first hopeful as everyone else, and then, more than curious about how and why the explosion occurred in the first place. The answers became clear in the months following the deaths. The company, Massey Energy, had cut corners in safety procedures. The resulting reports are gruesome and indictments are still coming down for the highest echelon in a company that for a long time flagrantly disregarded the safety standards for coal mining.

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Two weeks later, all eyes turned to the southeast of West Virginia when another explosion caused an oil rig to catch on fire and fall to the ground, exposing a deep well in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill explosion killed eleven workers. For months, oil gushed out of the well unabated. Petroleum headed for the Gulf beaches. Within a few weeks, wildlife began appearing on the barrier islands covered and smothered in oil. The photos of birds immersed in a wet suit of petroleum played continuously on the news and horrified the world.

Even though I’d moved in Pittsburgh in April 2010, I was still working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a public/media relations director until they found my replacement. The oil spill and the threat to Florida’s wildlife put my departure on hold for months. As I watched the news unfold about what caused the mine explosion from my home in Pittsburgh, I was fielding media calls, writing news releases, and pulling together facts sheets on oiled wildlife. By June, I was appointed to handle all the media during the sea turtle nest relocation project where 250 nests were dug up on the Panhandle beaches of Florida and eggs were transported to the Atlantic side of Florida for hatching and release. The project was unprecedented and received the attention of national and international media.

It didn’t take long for a culprit in the oil spill to have a name: BP. Once again, a large corporation sacrificed human and environmental safety in the pursuit of profit. My mind was churning and mulling over the connection between the two events.

In my spare time, I began writing a love story called In the Garden about two people reunited after a long separation. The subject began to have a life of its own. I wanted to write about my mother who died in 1998. Through various tidbits I’d gleaned over the years, I suspected that my mother gave birth when she was a teenager back in 1933 or ’34. I researched as best I could. I interviewed her only living sibling in 2011 and went through writings left by my mother and her father, my grandfather. My grandfather had been a miner in Cornwall until he came to the United States in 1900. When he arrived, he went to work in the copper mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before giving his life to God and entering the ministry of the Methodist Church. Yes, my mother most likely became pregnant in a small Michigan town at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and she was the daughter of the Methodist minister. It scarred my mother for life, and in turn, it left its mark on her five children. I’ve spent my life recovering as I attempted to piece together my mother’s story.

female loggerhead

female loggerhead

With all of these events and life histories swirling in my head, I changed the course of my novel and renamed it Trails in the Sand. I wanted to write a book about how we destroy things and then attempt to recover and restore, if possible. It begins with a teenager on a beach watching a sea turtle lay a nest on St. George Island, Florida.

The chapters on the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster are from actual news clips and press releases. I used a description from my grandfather’s journal to describe the early years of the patriarch in the story. My mother’s story is weaved into the story as well. The main character, Caroline Carlisle is an environmental writer who sets out to write about the sea turtle project.

That’s how my novel came to life. I wrote Trails in the Sand to show it’s never too late to restore and recover from tragedy, and it’s never too late to find love.

How about you? Does real life seep into your fiction?

 

How Much Background Is Too Much in a Novel?

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’m happily working away at the new novel these days. When I wrote the original concept back in 2006, I provided lots of background research on Florida and the Everglades. That’s the way I’ve always written, even when I was a reporter. I regurgitated all the new and old knowledge onto the page in a very rough first draft or outline of a new piece. Then I set about slicing more than half of what I’ve spewed onto the page.

Successful writing in any field or genre contains three essential elements. I call it the 3 C’s of writing. The elements are correctness, clarity, and conciseness.

Correctness – In journalism, accuracy is a key element (we hope). However, even in fiction, correctness is important. I read a book once where the author was describing a scene where the newly in love couple went kayaking – in a single kayak. He helped her in the seat and then the author wrote that the man jumped in the same seat behind his gal. Also, the couple – both experienced kayakers – were said to use “oars” rather than the “paddles” used in kayaking. I lost interest in the book at this point. Try jumping into a one-person kayak alone, let alone with another person, and remain unharmed, upright and dry, and I’ll eat an oar immediately. Correctness is essential in the details of a novel. If you chose a famous place for the setting, make sure you know that place and the names of streets and intersections. You can make up the name of hotels and restaurants, but be sure you know distances between places. Also, make sure that if you’ve set your novel in 1984 you haven’t created any anachronisms by having a character pick up a cell phone to make a call. I’m reading a book right now that I thought was set twenty years, ago but the author just mentioned Wikipedia and Craig’s List. I don’t think either of those were around then.

Clarity – Clarity goes along with conciseness in some ways. Make sure nothing in the novel confuses the reader’s understanding of the story. I don’t mean the confusion that might come from unraveling a mystery. The reader shouldn’t have to read a word, a sentence, or a paragraph repeatedly to make sense of what you’ve put on the page. I ask my Beta readers to point out any confusing areas by simply putting a question mark. Sometimes it’s as simple as a misplaced modifier, such as “Credit cards shall not be given to customers unless the manager has punched them first.” I misplace my modifiers often in the first draft, and just as often, I’m not the one to catch them.

Conciseness – Finally, I get to the reason I started writing this post. I’m struggling now with all that background information culled from reading, interviewing, or living. It’s sometimes difficult to realize that the reader doesn’t need and probably doesn’t care to know all I’ve learned before writing the novel. The reader simply wants a story to be told. I’m struggling right now as I turn that original draft/outline into a real first draft ready for Beta readers. That background information or exposition as it’s called by literary folks doesn’t all need to come at once or at all. The author decides where, when, and how much to tell. Some of it can come out in plot situations throughout the book. It’s one of the beautiful things about being an author. It’s also one of the most difficult. Beginning writers can sometimes be spotted immediately because they haven’t yet realized the importance of conciseness. I’m still learning after nearly two decades in this business. You don’t need to tell the reader everything you know. Not even close.

Here’s something I try to remember every time I write: Just because I put it down on paper, doesn’t mean I’ve carved the words in stone. That delete button is a one-finger press away. (But just to be sure I create a file for deleted passages.)

What do you think? Are these important elements in storytelling?

wood stork (Everglades)

wood stork (Everglades)

Tag, You’re It!

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I’m playing Indie Author tag today, and I’m IT. Being “IT” means that I share information about my work in progress, or WIP.

The Rules

  1. Give credit (including a link) to the Indie Author who tagged you.
  2. Play by the rules; therefore, you must post the rules.
  3. You MUST answer all ten questions below.
  4. List five other Indie Authors with links that you have “tagged” so that the game can continue.

Link Back

The Indie Author who tagged me is Christoph Fischer who writes the blog Writer Christoph Fischer where he writes reviews and promotes Indie Authors. He’s the author of The Luck of the Weissensteiners. His work in progress is Sebastian.

What is the title or working title of your WIP?

Safe Harbor, but I will have to change it before publishing. There are too many other books out with the same title.

What genres does your novel fall under?

Contemporary fiction with environmental themes

What actors (Dream Cast) would you choose to play the characters in a film version?

Emily Booth: Ashley Judd

Daniel Booth: Matt Damon

Barbara Evans: Michelle Pfeiffer

Jack Owen: Harrison Ford

What is the main outline for your book?

Safe Harbor is set in Florida where an international conglomerate starts to set up perfect living and vacation communities where they control every aspect of life, including wildlife put on display for the enjoyment of humans. The novel examines the folly of man when he transforms nature for his benefit. Nature always wins in the end. A group of ordinary citizens forms an odd group as they attempt to stop the destruction of the natural world they treasure.

Will your book be Indie published/self published or represented by an agency and sold to a traditional publisher?

I plan to publish this book as an Indie. However, I would be happy to accept an offer from a traditional publisher for any of my books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wrote the first draft during six months in 2007. Then life interrupted, and I put the manuscript aside until now.

What other books in this genre would you compare your book to?

It could be a combination of Barbara Kingsolver and Carl Hiassen.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The book is set in Florida where I lived for thirty years. For a time, I was a reporter covering the politics of several small towns in north Florida. For some reason, Florida and its people write the stories for me. Sometimes I create scenes that are tamer than real life because some of the things that happen in this state are not to be believed. Remember hanging chads, an astronaut in diapers, Trayvon Martin, and Casey Anthony, and you can figure out what I mean. Add in swamps that cover the lower part of the peninsula and some pythons, panthers, and alligators, you’ve got the setting for the next Great Florida Novel.

What else about the book might pique readers’ attention?

How about this: wildlife on steroids, new age charlatans clearing auras at the farmers’ market, a Vietnam Vet who’s actually a spy, and a dentist in love with his drill. I didn’t even mention the love triangles and the mysterious appearance of a tribe of people thought to be extinct.

Five other Indie Authors I’m tagging: Stop by their sites and say hello.

Rachelle Ayala: http://www.rachelleayala.com

Kris Jackson Design: krisjacksondesign.blogspot.com

Jennifer Donohoe, Author: http://www.jenniferdonohoe.com

Michele Shriver, Author of Real Life Women’s Fiction: http://micheleshriver.com

Carol Ervin’s Auther: http://carolervin.com

I hope you enjoyed this game of Tag as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.

Today is the last day of Trails in the Sand’s Virtual Book Tour and that means, it’s the last day to enter the giveaway. Visit my last tour stops today and enter the cool giveaway.

trailsbanner3web

I’ve been on a virtual book tour with Trails in the Sand this week and today is my last stop and your last chance to enter to win a special package.

I’ve been on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. Today’s the last day you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 29 – Check out these blogs today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 29

Jody’s Book Reviews features my guest post “Tikkun Olan Found Its Way into the Novel.” Jody features giveaways and tours. She also posts book reviews, but at this time she is not accepting requests for reviews.

Celtic Lady’s Reviews features Trails in the Sand. Kathleen Kelly says her blog is for reviews and giveaways.

Confessions of an Inner Aspen features an interview with me. Aspen is an aspiring writer of fiction and writes book reviews.

 

Earth Day – Incorporate “Green” in Stories

source: www.outlook.noaa.govBy Patricia Zick @PCZick

Today is the forty-third anniversary of the very first Earth Day in 1970 when environmentally minded folks came together to raise awareness after several major disasters in this country. First, in 1969 there was a devastating oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara that compromised both the habitat and the wildlife within reach. Then, if that wasn’t horrific enough, a river caught fire in Ohio. I repeat: a river caught on fire because of the high amounts of combustible crap in the water.

We’re still celebrating Earth Day, and we’re still dealing with environmental disasters such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill three years ago.

This blog is devoted to writing and writers and today is no different despite my opening paragraphs. Today, I urge all writers to consider doing something “green” in your work. You don’t have to write environmentally themed novels as I do, but you could create a character that recycles or drives a Prius or drinks water from stainless steel containers or uses cloth napkins.

I attended a writer’s conference many years ago at the height of the AIDS Awareness campaign. In one of the sessions, an agent urged the participants to make sure the characters were having protected sex, whether it was to show a character pulling a condom out of a drawer or simply having two characters discuss the issue before partaking in sex the first time. I’m doing the same thing here. No matter what you believe about climate change, taking care of our planet just makes good sense. As writers we can lead by example.

You don’t need to make a big deal out of it, just make it a natural part of the story and maybe somewhere something will click with a reader.

In Trails in the Sand, Simon, one of the main characters, toys with the idea of pulling an old solar water heating system out of the barn. Here’s how I handled it:

“I’ve been thinking about something,” Simon said. “Remember that old solar water heater out in the barn? I’m going to pull it out this afternoon and see if we can install it for the bathroom.”

Do you think it’s salvageable?” Caroline asked.

“I’m not sure, but I know this guy on Vilano Beach who works with this type of thing. I thought I’d give him a call.”

“What brought this about?”

“I keep thinking about our dependence on fossil fuels and wondered how we could change our lives in some ways that might make a small difference. Then I read that piece you wrote.”

“So you do read what I write,” Caroline said. “Sure, see if we can do something with it. Maybe Gus wasn’t so far off the mark all those years ago.”

“Maybe not, but don’t worry, I won’t make you live off the grid totally. I’m thinking there’s a middle ground somewhere. And you know I’m your biggest fan.”

Speaking of Trails in the Sand, my virtual book tour starts today. Please check out my blog stops and enter to win a very cool giveaway: an autographed copy of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, magnets, a Route 66 baseball cap, and a “green” grocery bag from What’s Green with Betsy blog.

Here’s the schedule for April 22 trailsbanner3web

Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries More blog features an excerpt from Trails in the Sand. Melissa loves books and animals. She says her blog is “a book blog with a very pet-centric twist.

Author Richard Stephenson interviews me on his blog. Richard is cool – he devotes much of his blog to promoting Indie Authors.

Bookingly Yours blog features my guest post about the anniversary of Earth Day and the connection to Trails in the Sand.
Jenai reviews books and features guest posts by authors.

Any comments left on today’s post will be entered into a separate drawing (by me) for a Kindle version of one of my three novels in eBook format. Enjoy and do something “green” today.

Checking on 2013 Goal Progress

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

At the beginning of the year, I posted my goals for 2013. Here we are three months into the year, so it’s time to see how I’m doing once again. I highly recommend checking on the goals. I’ve never done it before this year, and I’m finding it’s a great motivator that keeps me moving.

Writing Goals for 2013

  • Launch Trails in the Sand. I published it on Amazon and have a print copy ready to proof. I plan to do a big launch for the novel by the end of January.

Update: Trails in the Sand is available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon. It’s also available on Nook through Barnes and Noble. So far, sales remain slow.  There are eight reviews on Amazon – all five-star  Several review copies are still out, and I’m waiting for more reviews to appear. I decided to sign up for a blog tour with Worldwind Virtual Blog Tours so I’m busy writing guest posts for the tour, which begins on Earth Day, April 22. The tour lasts one week. Also, I signed up for World Literary Cafe’s Shout Out for April 22. I’ll report in my next update on whether I feel these two things were worthwhile.

Goodreads GiveawayNow - Feb. 28
  • Finish Safe Harbor. I started this novel in 2007 but stopped when I decided I needed to find a wildlife officer to interview. I left for the big Route 66 trip, which led to the creation of Live from the Road. When I returned from Route 66, I took a new job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and became very familiar with wildlife officers and experts. Now there’s no excuse not to finish the almost completed draft. I start by pulling out the spiral notebook where it’s housed and giving it a read. I always recommend that writers let pieces incubate, but five years isn’t what I meant.

 Update: I’ve read through the draft, made notes, and decorated my bulletin with character cards. I’m rearranging chapters now and and filling in gaps. I’m starting on Chapter Five this week.

  • Publish a book of essays on my travels. I already have a name: Odyssey to Myself. I have most of the pieces written in various stages. It’s a matter of pulling it all together into one cohesive story of my travels from 2004-2009 as I discarded an old life and moved into a new phase.

Update:  Nothing to report here.

  • Pull together all of my gardening blog posts from my blog “Living Lightly” into a book. I see it as a primer for gardening and preserving produce. Again, I have all the pieces here and there, I just need to pull it all together.

Update:  This book is coming along nicely. I’ve written the first four chapters (Introduction, Year Round Gardening, Winter, and Spring). I’ll be starting the chapter on Summer this week. The drafts of the first four chapters are on my husband’s desk awaiting his proofreading pen.

  • Read the pile of books on my desk, both fiction and nonfiction. Reading is an essential part of the writing journey. How fortunate for me to have a career that requires reading for improving my craft.

Update:  I read another eBook and finished In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I started reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver this past week.

  • Establish myself as a bestselling author. Every year this one makes it to my list. Here’s to 2013  being the year it happens. For me, this goal refers to making a living as an author. I want to be able to pay more than the electrical bill each month with the proceeds from my storytelling.

Update:  Stay tuned.

How’s it going for you in 2013 so far?

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

blog-hop-the-next-big-thing

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Author Lynn Thompson http://www.lynnthompsonbooks.com asked if I’d participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Since I launched my Next Big Thing Novel (Trails in the Sand) yesterday, January 30, it seemed quite appropriate to participate in my second blog hop. This blog hop requires me to answer ten questions about my new work and then tag other authors to do the same. Not only does it give me the opportunity to promote my new book, but I have the opportunity to support and promote my fellow authors as well. It’s a winning combination.

Ten Questions about Trails in the Sand

Was Trails in the Sand always the title of this book, even when it was a work in progress?

No, it was originally titled In the Garden. Even though the garden is a part of the book, it didn’t really address the whole concept. When I sent it out to my first readers during the first draft round, I kept thinking about the title and knew I had to change it. At first, I wanted Tracks in the Sand to be the title, but when I did a search on Amazon, I came up with dozens of other titles very similar to that one. Trails fit better, and I didn’t find any other books with that title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was embroiled in the real-life drama as a public relations director for Florida’s fish and wildlife agency. I handled the media for the sea turtle nest relocation project that took place during the summer of 2010. At the same time, I was beginning a new relationship with a lost love from thirty-five years ago and was in the process of moving to Pittsburgh. Two weeks prior to the oil spill, twenty-nine miners were killed in a coal mine explosion in West Virginia, just a few hours from where I was moving. It all fell into place to write about the oil spill and coal mine disaster and our quest for profit and fossil fuels at any cost as the backdrop to the love story unfolding as the reunited couple face obstacles that threaten to topple their new marriage.

What genre is your book?

Trails in the Sand is contemporary literature. I want to create a new genre for environmental fiction, but so far, I’m not having success with that.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ashley Judd would be exceptional as main character Caroline Carlisle, with Woody Harrelson as Caroline’s husband Simon. Susan Sarandon would make a perfect Gladdy Stokley Carlisle, the damaged southern belle and mother to Caroline.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

As environmental writer Caroline Carlisle reports on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, she uncovers secrets about the past threatening to destroy her family unless she can heal the hurts after a lifetime of lies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I went the traditional route for my first three novels. I self-published for the first time in May 2012 (Live from the Road) with modest success, so Trails in the Sand is also self-published. However, both books have gone through several beta readers, a copy editor, and a professional editor before publication.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me six months or so; it’s hard to say because I do a great amount of research during the first draft stage, and I write scenes as they come to me, and then worry about placement later. With that said, it could have taken almost a year before I felt it was ready for first read by beta readers.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Before I began writing this book, I reread Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. While I do not put myself in his category of writing excellence (yet), my themes are similar. We both explore nature and crazy families who’ve done their share of damage to those who come later.

What inspired you to write this book?

As I learned more and more about the two tragedies that occurred in April 2010 – the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion – I became increasingly concerned with the lack of following safety procedures in both cases. Both disasters could have been prevented. In total, forty lives were lost. In addition, my personal life fluctuated between extreme highs and extreme lows during this time. And again most of that could have been prevented. In all of these cases, I kept wondering if restoration and peace would ever be possible after something is destroyed, so I decided to explore that concept both in the environment and in human relationships.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope readers will enjoy the story of one family as Caroline explores the past of her grandfather and mother. There’s touching moments as well as hilarious moments as one southern family fights to hide the past. As a reporter, Caroline can’t let it go. I also think readers will enjoy the race against time as wildlife officials fight to save hundreds of sea turtle nests from destruction as the oil heads for Florida’s Panhandle beaches.

Author Links

Here are five talented authors I’m tagging as the blog hop continues. Make sure you stop by their blogs and get to know these talented individuals.

Jerry Hatchett

Website:  http://www.jerryhatchett.com

Blog:  Storyfreak – http://jerryhatchett.blogspot.com

Pawnbroker Website:  http://www.pawnbrokernovel.com

Facebook Fan Page:  http://www.facebook.com/JerryHatcherAuthor

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/Chop0Matic

Inez Reilly

Website:  http://iamsproperty.org

Blog:  http://inezreilly.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/inez.reilly

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/IAMSPROPERTY

Author Central:  https://www.amazon.com/author/inezreilly
About Me page:  https://about.me/inez.reilly

Elise K. Ackers

Website:  www.elisekackers.net

Blog:  http://elisekackersthewritefrequency.blogspot.com.au/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/EliseKAckers

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/pages/EliseKAckers/145929782088997

Harriet Cammock

Website: www.harrietcammock.org

Blog:  http://www.harrietcammock.blogspot.com

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/HarrietCammock

Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/harriet.cammock

Radio Blog:  www.blogtalkradio.com/the-harriet-cammock-show

 

Ferris Robinson

Blog:  http://easingintomyfifties.wordpress.com/dogs-and-love-ebook/

Amazon website:  http://www.amazon.com/Dogs-Love-Stories-Fidelity-ebook/dp/B00B3NUDHS

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/DogsAndLove?fref=ts

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/fkrobinson

 

I’d like to thank, Lynn Thompson, for tagging me and asking me to participate. Please take a moment to visit Lynn’s sites.

Lynn Thompson

Website: http://www.lynnthompsonbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/lynnthompsonbooks

Blog: http://lynnthompsonbooks.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lynnthompson8

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625793.Lynn_Thompson

Authors Needed for Blog Hop

By Patricia Zick @ PCZick

I’ve been invited to partake in a blog-hop soon, and I need five authors to post the week after me. I’ll post your contact information on my post Jan. 31. In my post, I’ll answer ten questions about my latest work. On Feb. 7, the authors I linked in my post will do the same thing by answering the questions and posting links to five other authors. It doesn’t take much time, but it certainly helps expose your work to a wider audience.

Any authors who are interested, please send me a message via Facebook, twitter, or email at pczick@verizon.net.

I’ll be answering questions about my new novel Trails in the Sand which will be launched on Jan. 30 although it’s available on amazon.com right now.3-D1web

A Hemingway Feast

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Confession time:  I’ve never been a great fan of Ernest Hemingway’s writing. It leaves me cold. That’s not to say he isn’t a brilliant writer; I’m only saying his style of writing is not my favorite. I go more for Fitzgerald and Steinbeck.

Nonetheless, I longed to read A Moveable Feast, a nonfiction account of his years in Paris during the 1920s. He wrote the book almost thirty years after his life of sharing drinks and philosophies with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and many others of that era. The period and place fascinate me as I’ve often wondered what it must have been like to have so many creative geniuses gathered in one place, sharing and hording ideas and discussing the process of creating when all the rules went with the winds of war so recently fought.

The book didn’t disappoint. A Moveable Feast is the first book of Hemingway’s that I enjoyed and read in almost one sitting. His descriptions of his writing process intrigued me. Here’s a few gems that moved me and made me consider my process.

Here’s what he told himself when he became stuck as he started a new story: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence.”

I tell myself something similar every time I face a blank page. Then I just write the first thing that comes to mind about the topic. I wonder what one true sentence might mean. He describes it as a simple, declarative sentence. So I suppose that’s all it is: the simplest thing to be said in the most concise way. What do you think is “one true sentence?”

“. . .I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started writing the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything. . .”

Sometimes it’s difficult to shut it off, but I believe he’s right about letting the subconscious work it out. Whenever I’ve agonized over a scene or character, nothing comes, and I become more frustrated. When I let it go and forget it about, I often wake in the morning with the perfect solution to the problem. Are you able to let it go when you put down the pen or stop the fingers?

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

This is fairly similar to the last one, and again, it’s the way I write. I stop writing when I’ve figured out a way to begin or end a scene. I take down some notes on how I want to proceed, and then I start fresh the next day after that time of letting it go to the subconscious. Of course, this is in the perfect world of writing – it doesn’t often happen that way. I’ve emptied the well and had to quit until I could pull in the hose and fill it up again.

“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next.”

Yep. It’s the best way to end the writing day. I’ve ended in the middle of scenes. I read somewhere that Somerset Maugham ended his writing day in the middle of a sentence so he always had a place to start the following day. I don’t go that far, but I do like to stop so I don’t face an empty page the next day. Do you find this a helpful way to write?

Hemingway to Fitzgerald: “Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.”

Amen.

 

My Novel Christmas Party

NovelChristmasPart

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I love Jae over at Lit and Scribbles. She always has inspiring posts such as her recent Novel Christmas Party. Today, I’m throwing a Novel Christmas Party for my novel Live from the Road.

Question:  What Christmas carol best describes Live from the Road and why?

Answer: Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer by Elmo and Patsy

I chose something that was just crazy enough to match some of the antics of the four women in the novel. This comes as close as anything. I was even more convinced after watching the video.

Jae also challenged other authors to answer a few questions about the characters of the novel who have attended a Christmas party, but in the answers, they are not allowed to kill one another.

  1. Who’s the first to show up and who’s the first to leave? Why? The first to show up would be Sally who is punctual and precise and a bit of a nerd. That’s why she would also be the first to leave the party, but only after she’d made sure all the counter tops were spotless.
  2.  Who’s the first to start a fight? Why? That would have to be CC because she’s carrying around a lot of anger that needs to be expelled. She often ends up saying things that made folks mad.
  3. Who’s the first to get drunk? Why? All four main characters, Meg, Sally, CC, and Ramona, would be the first at the party to get drunk because they like to party. They’d start with doing shots and end with doing shots, but Sally would stop in time to clean the kitchen and be sober enough to drive home.
  4. Who will enjoy the party most and who will loathe being there? Why? CC and Ramona will enjoy the party the most because they live in the moment most of the time. As long as CC can sing a song on the karaoke machine, she’ll have a blast. Meg will have the least fun because she’ll sit in a corner by herself thinking about her son and her jerk of a boyfriend.

So now, it’s your turn. What carol, even if you have to stretch a little, best describes your novel and why?

Next, imagine all your characters are attending a Christmas party where they’re not allowed to kill each other. Answer the following questions:

  1. Who’s the first to show up and who’s the first to leave? Why?
  2. Who’s the first to start a fight? Why?
  3. Who’s the first to get drunk? Why?
  4. Who will enjoy the party most and who will loathe being there? Why?

You can either tell me in the comments below or create your own post. If you do a post, call it My Novel Christmas Party and link back to this post so I can share it.

Live from the Road giveaways in December:

book-lovers-giveaway button

 

Goodreads Giveaway – December 7-31 Print Edition

December 21-25 My Birthday Celebration – Live from the Road (Kindle version) will be free on amazon.com to celebrate the winter holidays and my birthday on December 23. What better way to celebrate than to give something away?

I hope you’re enjoying the beauty of the season and not getting caught up in the nonsense.

 

 

 

Another Giveaway – Wishing for Summer

Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews is sponsoring the Dreaming of Summer Blog Hop, now through December 2.

The blog hop is hosted by Me, My Shelf and I and I am a reader not a writer. There are ten giveaways (including Live from the Road, kindle version.) Drop by Laurie’s blog and discover some new writers and maybe win a book.

I’ll be back next week with a regular blog. I’m still recovering from a viral virus, but I am on the mend. Hope you’re all well and thriving.